Monday, 22 May 2017

Spring! Finally!

Bird cherry flowering
It finally feels like spring. We haven't had frosts for a few days now, some days have been quite warm indeed, actually more like summer. The cold northerly winds on other days though remind us that it isn't summer yet. With the warmer weather it seems like everything is popping into life. Most of the trees are now just about in leaf, even the oak trees are showing signs of life. The apple, cherry, bird cherry and plums are all bursting into flower too. The rhubarb has come through too now and it made a welcome addition to our spring greens fry up- it adds a kind of lemony taste. I did over cook it a bit, as I forgot it doesn't take long, but will remember next time just to heat it through for a bit of crunch too.
The dandelions are out! Good job the animals like them

Enjoying eating the dandelions. You can also see the posts
for the new fence Ian has been installing this last week. The
baby alpacas often go through the electric fence initially, but
we are worried they would also end up on the road, or the
girls panic over something and run out into the road, so
we are fencing off a large section to stop this. 
Spring is always full of new arrivals some we welcome and some we don't. The mosquitoes are the ones that fall into the latter category. There are not many at the moment, but they are definitely buzzing around and I was even woken by one this morning. The swallows have arrived back and they definitely fall into the welcome category. We intended to re-roof the boys alpaca house but that is postponed until after nesting. I also thought I had heard the golden biscuit once or twice, whoops I meant the Golden oriole, but not entirely sure. Usually when it does arrive it makes lots of noise all day, but remains elusive to sight, despite its vivid yellow colour. Rather like the cuckoo, which fortunately this year is keeping its distance and not driving me cuckoo with its noise. Another welcome visitor, at least while we haven't got free range chickens is the eagle which flew over whilst having coffee one morning. With the sun shining and an eagle flying over, it seemed like the perfect coffee break.
It was a lot of poles. Just need to tack on the wire now.

The annual picture of the caravan outside for the first time in
the year. The poles by the way are to stop Ian forgetting about
the extension lead and driving over it with the tractor.
To commemorate the arrival of spring we had the annual move of the caravan outside. We even had help to move the caravan outside this year, as Ian's brother and his wife were here at the time. It was a short visit, but they promised to make a return visit sometime. We took them for a walk around the land and showed them our forest as well as the ski hill. It still seems weird to think it is ours when we are showing folks around. We had also planned on shearing the alpaca boys while they were here but it rained on the day and so it got postponed. In fact it was earmarked for today and it unexpectedly rained again. It is a bit of a pain, but we did need the rain, so I'm not complaining too much. There were plenty of other jobs to do to keep us occupied.
A gleaming sign, but not many visitors this last week. We will
make up for it this week, probably two coach parties

Enjoying spring grass
Besides showing Ian's family around, we also sat around eating lots of cake, visited our friend the goat farmer of course and generally talked. Well Ian did a lot of talking, he has been saving it up, after spending so much time on his own - so visitors beware, he saves it up for any willing ears. We shouldn't be short of visitors at all this summer. Ian's brother and wife were the first of the year and the next group are expected later on this week, with another guest next week. It is all coming around rather fast, especially as I am still getting the apartments sorted out. Again I'm getting there or at least making progress. I even had Ian sort me out two new uprights for my old IKEA shelving that has been dismantled so many times and re-located that it needs matchsticks in the holes to give the screws a bit more to grip onto.
A little miracle grape plant. This is the only cutting to survive
from our dessert grape. We have been enjoying the fruits of
our tarter grape recently as our friends from Kand┼żas Laboratorija
gave us the wine they produced from our grapes. It is more like a
port wine, quite rich and sweet. Better than our last years attempt
at wine with this grape - it was alright as a mulled wine but not
just for drinking, this is fine on its own.

Our fruit bush area prepped for the autumn raspberries
I planted lots of seeds over the week such as peas, herbs, flowers, lettuce, parsnips (might be a tad late, but oh well), beans, texel greens, collards, radishes, mizuna, rocket, carrots, squashes and loads more. I still have loads to plant too along with the weeding, which is now beginning to be needed after the rain. As well as planting there has been the autumn raspberries to cut back and pull up the escapees to be relocated elsewhere and Ian was busy prepping the area for that today. I also got started on the strawberry beds as they are already in a bit of a state. At least I feel I'm getting somewhere at the minute, even though I've still had quite a bit of academic work to do too.
Ian mowed around the ponds

Work continues on the garden plots. Fortunately we don't
need to do a lot of hard digging, as the beds are made up of
rotted manure. Still there are a lot of weed seeds, which
doesn't help.
The Masters student I was supervising had to finish by this weekend and her work got delayed, which meant we were working on it for the latter half of the week. I also got on with a bit of my own work of re-analysing previous work again. It is slow going but again I feel I am getting there. At least I can work on the academic work and then take a break in the garden and then sometimes I am working in the garden and take a break by working on the academic side. It all depends on what has the highest priority that day and how tired I am of the whichever I am working on at the time.
Contemplating life? Make the most of it Chanel, the little
one should be here soon. 

Ian strimmed around my herb bed and mowed the lawn in
the orchard. It seems a bit of a grand name for trees that
have just about hung in there but it is beginning to look
more like an actual orchard this year. We've waited long
enough to get to this stage.
Of course there are plenty of jobs to do and we won't be bored for quite a while. Ian has started on the mowing and strimming, which takes a fair amount of his time over the summer. He has also started the waiting game. Today was the earliest date for our girls to produce babies. Chanel has already had us wondering this morning, as she has seemed a bit agitated and separating herself from the other girls at times, but nothing so far. Aggie also seems so tired, bless her! One day she didn't seem happy with herself at all and so Ian got hold of her and I carefully poured cold water down into her fleece. We thought she might freak out a bit at this, but she seemed to actually enjoy it, except when it got a bit close to her neck. It seemed to make her feel better anyway.
Big baby bump

Aggie is also looking close too. We don't think it will be
as long as July, which we had wondered because she took
so long to spit off Mr. P - an alpaca sign to say I'm
pregnant so keep off.
The sheep, however, have been grumpy and demanding as usual. They are bothered by the flies when it is hot and also get through the grass quite fast. At least the grass is now growing or at least the dandelions are. They are not Ian's favourite animals at the best of times and this week was not the best of times. Somehow two of them managed to escape and Ian was not happy to say the least. He was in such a bad mood that I shouted at him and started to walk off. It was over a year since our last argument, so not so common an occurrence really. Anyway, we sorted out our differences and I went to get some food for the two errant sheep, while he guarded the broken fence to stop the other three from getting out.
Poor Aggie, she looks so tired
Mari as laid back as ever and enjoying one of the million or
so dandelions.
It was a bit hard to get them in, as they were enjoying the rather lush grass near the ponds. They are not allowed near there, despite the lush grass, as it is possible to pick up liver fluke in damp meadow areas and we don't want there manure running into the ponds. Eventually they decided to follow me for the food in the bowl and I got them into the paddock area and then into the shed and shut them in for the night. At least we have been fine since then, just kind of busy.


  1. I'm sure it feels good to get those seeds into the ground. Hoping the fair weather hangs around and you're soon enjoying bountiful harvests!

    1. Thanks Bill. It sure does feel good to have those seeds in


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